The Cold War
Hard pressed to find a Sixties housewife/stay-at-home mom
exemplified by June Cleaver, coiffed and ready to tackle housework in a shirt waist dress, heels, and beads--
I’m not the least bit surprised. Running a household in the Sixties entailed more than waltzing Hoover in a
dress—interpret that as you will—or swishing a dust cloth. Take into consideration the appliances which passed
muster as modern conveniences for that era. Let’s turn the dial to
zero and get ready to fight The Cold War on the home front. We’re about to defrost the
Before my family owned a self-defrost fridge, my mother initiated “global
warming” inside the freezer compartment of our non self-defrosting model. Before reusable, resealable plastic Ziploc storage bags were developed for consumers in
1968, you could store meat in the freezer the way it came packaged from the market. You could also parcel it out and repackage it in plastic wrap, and further insulate
by shrouding in aluminum wrap. Meanwhile frost had the potential to
build up inside the freezer until the walls closed in as the ice continent of Antarctica. My mother never let
the threat of “burial” escalate too far in The Cold War, having developed an offensive strategy which
essentially amounted to a pre-emptive strike to break the ice.
1. Every two weeks, she initiated “defrosting” by turning the freezer dial to zero. She emptied the freezer
and placed its contents on the kitchen counters.
2. Strategically placing a pan of hot water in the freezer speeded up the process of melting the
frost. I’m told this took about an hour so none of the meat on the counter had a chance to
remember the perk of her doling out popsicles to my sister and me along with any of our friends who happened to
be in the yard during The Cold War front.
3. Soon, the catch basin beneath the freezer filled with water during this transformation from solid to
liquid. My mother gingerly lifted this cumbersome rectangular tub and slowly walked it to the
sink to pour the dregs down the drain.
4. During the process of fighting The Cold War, my mother wiped down
the interiors of the fridge and freezer before replacing the frozen booty.
My mother not only won this Cold War but knew how to defrost other
situations before they escalated. As in life, it’s best to anticipate and be prepared by assuming an
offensive stance. My mother taught by example so my sister and I followed her lead, her beads of wisdom
frozen in time.
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